Gov. Newsom Stands Firm on Mandates as State Reaches COVID Milestone

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Gavin Newsom (via WikiMedia Commons)

By Aldon Thomas Stiles, California Black Media

California Gov. Gavin Newsom took to Twitter earlier this month to praise Californians for getting vaccinated when the state’s COVID rate dropped to 57.3 cases per 100,000 people, the lowest in the U.S.

“85% of eligible Californians have received at least one COVID vaccine shot. The result? California continues to have the lowest case rate in the nation,” he said.

California’s COVID-19 vaccination rate is currently 16th in the country with 71.8% of the population fully vaccinated.

For now, students will be required to be vaccinated for in person learning starting the term following FDA full approval of the vaccine for their grade span (7-12 and K-6).

The coronavirus vaccines will be added to other vaccines like ones for measles, mumps rubella, tetanus, and whooping cough, for example, that are required without exception for all students in the state. For those and other shots explicitly stated in California law, no waivers are allowed for any reason, even religious or philosophical ones.

But even though the state’s COVID-19 rates have flattened and the numbers of hospitalizations and deaths have significantly dropped, the governor is facing mounting protests from people opposed to government-imposed vaccine mandates, including parents who do not want their children to take the shot.

Responding to those critics, Newsom’s campaign sent out a letter that included a survey asking recipients for feedback on his vaccine mandate for schoolchildren.

“As you have probably heard, California is the first state in the nation to require our students to be vaccinated against COVID-19. This will go into effect following full FDA approval,” Newsom said in the letter. “Why did I make this decision? Because it’s the right thing to do, and it will keep our kids safe. This decision may not be popular with some of the people who protest vaccination sites and are opposed to mask-wearing in almost any circumstance, but it will save lives.”

On Oct. 8, Newsom also signed several bills that give dentists, podiatrists and optometrists the authority to administer COVID-19 vaccines.

Those bills are Assembly Bill (AB) 526, 691 and 1064.

The governor also tweeted his advice on vaccine booster shots.

“Protect yourself. Protect your loved ones. Get your booster when it’s your turn,” tweeted Newsom.

As it currently stands, booster shots are not required but are authorized for “individuals 65 years of age and older, individuals 18 through 64 years of age at high risk of severe COVID-19, and individuals 18 through 64 years of age whose frequent institutional or occupational exposure to SARS-CoV-2 puts them at high risk of serious complications of COVID-19 including severe COVID-19,” according to the FDA.

Acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock highlighted the fluid nature of the nation’s pandemic response.

“This pandemic is dynamic and evolving, with new data about vaccine safety and effectiveness becoming available every day,” Woodcock stated in a press release.

“As we learn more about the safety and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines, including the use of a booster dose, we will continue to evaluate the rapidly changing science and keep the public informed,” Woodcock continued.

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